We've wobbled a bit of late but a win tonight would put us above Liverpool with a game of hand. All things considered, where they finished last season and where we finished last season, I don't think anyone can be disappointed if that is where we find ourselves later.
And I'm not going to use this post about how it comes down to what side wants it more. I don't think any side goes out to not win, but it's how you get the players in that frame of mind that counts. I want to get out of bed at the very moment, but I could just as easily turn over and get an extra hour or two. I still want to get out of bed and I don't know what is going to happen in ten minutes after I hit publish.
But I've written a few times recently that I've enjoyed this season. I've seen enough to know that we're on the right path. I'm also old enough to know that these things take time. I'm like the bull on top of the hill.
That written, it's also Friday night football so it means I have an entire weekend to make plans. After tonight, I think I'm going to have a football free weekend. It's nice isn't it this Friday night football. I'm starting to think that having the football in the week would be best.
But I've got to wake up and focus on the football. Jack misses another match and while a player like Jack can't be replaced, we have to find a way to play as a team without him. I think we'll see tonight that coming together. This will be the fifth game he misses and I think by now Dean Smith would have figured out the best way to approach this game.
Either way, it's going to be a good game but probably quite tough. We all know how Steve Bruce will set up the side and they are in a relegation battle, so it's either going to be they find that fight or they don't. What I really mean is that we know we're not going to see scintillating football from a Bruce side, so it is going to mean hard work.
I'll be back a little later, going for a nap.
Match facts from the BBC
- Aston Villa won the reverse fixture 2-0 in January and can do the Premier League double over Newcastle for only the second time, after 2004-05.
- Newcastle's only league victory in the past seven attempts against Villa came at St James' Park in the Championship in February 2017. Steve Bruce was in charge of the visitors.
- However, Newcastle are unbeaten in 11 Premier League home games in this fixture since a 3-0 defeat in April 2005 when they had three players sent off (W6, D5).
- Newcastle have lost eight of their 12 Premier League matches in 2021, second only to Southampton's nine defeats.
- They can remain unbeaten in three consecutive league games for the first time this season, having earned successive draws.
- The Magpies have lost six league fixtures and conceded 22 goals at St James' Park this season, already more than in the whole of 2019-20.
- Newcastle's solitary Premier League clean sheet in 17 home matches came in a goalless draw with Liverpool on 30 December.
- Only six of their 27 league goals this campaign were not scored or assisted by one of the club's injured trio of Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin.
- Steve Bruce has never beaten Aston Villa in four attempts since leaving the club in October 2018 after two years as their manager (D1, L3).
- Dean Smith's side have failed to score more than once in any of their past eight league games, managing just five goals in total.
- A win would guarantee Villa their highest Premier League points total since 2010-11, when they finished with 48.
- They kept a clean sheet in 11 of their 12 league victories this season but have only avoided defeat in two of the 12 matches in which they conceded a goal.
- Aston Villa have equalled the club top-flight record of eight away clean sheets in a season. It's the most in the division in 2020-21.
- Emiliano Martinez is one short of matching Villa's Premier League record for most clean sheets by a goalkeeper in a season: 15 by Brad Friedel in 2009-10.
- Ollie Watkins has struck the woodwork an unrivalled seven times in the Premier League this season, including twice during his current run of five appearances without a goal.